A new web based service launched today by a company in Bath ensures children are heard in the primary school classroom and helps teachers monitor the wellbeing and happiness of their students.
Speakr makes it easy for teachers to see which of their students need some extra support, and can act as an early warning system alerting teaching staff to children who might be having difficulties at school.
Wellbeing and happiness are areas of increasing focus at a national level, with the UK Government spending £2m per year on research to understand the happiness of our children.
Speakr is the first and only online tool available that allows children to record their own feelings, from their perspective.
To use Speakr, children log into the system, either on a school computer or on an iPad. They can log in as often as they like, and can record how they feel throughout the school day by clicking on the ‘Speakr face’ that most closely reflects their emotions and entering some words to describe why they feel that way. Pupils can also use Speakr to send and receive messages with their teacher or another trusted adult within the school.
Teachers have their own login details, and can quickly and easily see how their whole class is feeling. They can identify whether a particular child appears to be out of sorts and follow this up with a conversation. Teachers can also provide ‘wellbeing’ reports to parents as part of their feedback about a child’s progress in their class.
Bath-based Anthony Lewis, father of two and founder of Speakr, said: “Often when children come home from school the only update you get as a parent is that their day was ‘Ok’ – it would be so helpful to know how they’ve really felt at school over a period of time. My original idea came from thinking about better ways to help children in care, but in talking to teachers it felt like there was an opportunity here for all children of primary school age.
“When Speakr was just a few ideas sketched on a piece of paper, the first teacher I spoke to about it – Hugh Thomas, Head of Science and PE at Broomhill Junior School in Bristol – said: “In my class of thirty, sometimes I don’t know if children are quiet because they’re quiet, or they’re quiet because there’s something wrong. If I had this tool, I’d know.” From that point on I believed we were on to something potentially amazing.
“Today’s primary school children are digital natives, so engaging them through technology they’re profoundly comfortable with seemed to offer an ideal way for them to record their feelings. We trialled Speakr in eight schools around the country and have had fantastic feedback from the children and their teachers.”
Mrs Delyth Williams, Head Teacher at Ysgol Bryn Teg in Llanelli, piloted Speakr. She said: “Assessing wellbeing is a challenge for all schools and Speakr will be a boost to all the schools that use it.”
Speakr is highly secure, with each school being allocated its own Speakr site, controlled by unique usernames and passwords for teachers and children. Children can’t share information on Speakr with classmates, everything they enter is kept between them and a minimum number of school staff.
Speakr has been trialled in schools around Britain over the past nine months and is now available to all schools and classes from September 2013. For a limited time, schools and classes can sign up to try Speakr for free. For more information see http://speakr.co.uk.